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For Release: Monday, October 16, 2017

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 10/9 - 10/15/17

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from the backcountry.

In 2016, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 356 search and rescue missions, extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques is critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas, with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Hamilton County
Town of Indian Lake
Wildland Search
: On Oct. 10 at 2:53 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 regarding a lost husband and wife, both 64, from Syracuse. The couple had hiked Castle Rock and lost track of the trail markers while descending. Forest Rangers Jen Temple and Jason Scott arrived on scene at 3:35 p.m., and located the couple within 20 minutes. The subjects were escorted back to their vehicle and both Rangers were cleared of the incident by 4:22 p.m.

Fulton County
Town of Stratford
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 10 at 10:52 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Fulton County 911 requesting Forest Rangers to help find two lost hunters. One of the men had called his wife to let her know he was lost. Rangers Mike Thompson and John Ploss assisted Fulton County Sherriff's Deputies to use a siren as an attractant. Dispatch called the man to determine their location. By 12:20 a.m., the Rangers located the two men, and within an hour, the subjects were back at their vehicle.

Saratoga County
Town of Hadley
Wildland Rescue:
On Oct. 12 at 1:28 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Warren County 911 about a 50-year-old Latham woman with an ankle injury on Hadley Mountain in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. The injury became non-weight-bearing as the subject attempted to "self-rescue" with her husband's assistance. He then returned to the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and called for help. Seven Forest Rangers responded, administered back-county first aid, and carried the woman to the trailhead. At 6:11 p.m., the couple were back at their car and able to seek medical attention on their own.

Essex County
Town of Westport
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 12 at 6:32 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 46-year-old Burlington, VT, man reporting he was lost on Split Rock Mountain. Essex County 911 determined the man's location to be about 2,000 feet off the established trail. As it became dark, the hiker became concerned he could not exit the forest before nightfall. Forest Ranger Jamison Martin called the man and was able to guide him to the trail. Once on the trail, the hiker went in the wrong direction. Ranger Martin determined that the hiker needed to stay at one location and be assisted out. Once on scene, Ranger Martin located the hiker within an hour, provided basic first aid, and assisted him back to his car by 9:50 p.m.

Franklin County
Town of Harrietstown
Wildland Rescue:
On Oct. 13 at 2:49 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 46-year-old Rochester woman who sustained a lower-arm injury while descending the steep terrain on Ampersand Mountain. The hiker was quickly put in touch with Forest Ranger Peter Evans, who instructed her to slowly continue down the mountain. Once Evans met her on the trail, he splinted her arm to prevent further injury. At 4:16 p.m., she was back at the trailhead, where she was provided further medical care by Saranac Lake Rescue Squad.

Franklin County
Town of Harrietstown
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 13 at 8:02 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a lost hiker on Baker Mountain in McKenzie Mountain Wilderness. The 23-year-old Saranac Lake man became separated from his hiking companion and had no flashlight to travel at night. Forest Ranger Robert Praczkajlo was dispatched and found the vehicle at the trailhead. However, just as Praczkajlo started down the trail, the two hikers arrived in another vehicle. They had found each other, hiked off the wrong side of the mountain, and managed to get a ride back to their parked vehicle.

Lewis County
Town of Montague
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 14, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a missing small game hunter. The 69-year-old Rochester man became disoriented while hunting, broke his compass, and was unable to make a cell phone call for help. Within a short time, four Forest Rangers located the hunter and assisted him back to the road with no further assistance needed.

Oneida County
Town of Boonville
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 14 at 3:47 p.m., NY State Police requested Forest Rangers to assist with finding two lost hunters near Pixley Falls in Jackson Hill State Forest. Lt. Scott Murphy and Rangers Rob Piersma and Greg Hoag initiated a search for the 77-year-old Rome man and his 48-year-old daughter from Texas. Lt. Murphy obtained cell phone coordinates from the 911 system. Within a short time, the searchers made voice contact with the pair, who were now stranded on steep cliffs. A high angle rope system was set up to lower the pair from the ledges. Once at the base of the slope, Rangers escorted the father and daughter back to their vehicle for evaluation by Boonville Rescue. By 6:52 p.m., all responders were cleared of the incident.

Essex County
Town of Westport
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 14, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch were notified by State Police of an overdue 73-year-old Middlebury, VT, man hunting in Split Rock Wild Forest. Forest Rangers used gun shots to encourage the lost hunter to respond in kind. Within a few shots, a reply was heard and Rangers quickly located the hunter and escorted him back to his vehicle without further incident.

St. Lawrence County
Town of Brasher
Wildfire:
On Oct. 15, DEC Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Kevin Riggs informed Forest Ranger Wil Benzel of a wildfire on Brasher Hill State Forest that had started from a burning pile of garbage. Benzel and the Helena Fire Department were able to contain the fire to 0.3 acres despite high winds in the area. An investigation into the dumping of garbage and the start of the fire is continuing.

Essex County
Town of North Elba
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 15, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman concerned about her 75-year-old female friend from Onchiota who was hiking McKenzie Mountain. When Forest Rangers called the hiker, she indicated she was lost. She was instructed to call 911, who could determine her approximate location from the cell phone call. Two Rangers used all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to gain access to the higher elevations of the mountain. From there, they hiked until they found the subject and escorted her back to her vehicle.

Ulster County
Town of Shandaken
Wildland Search:
On Oct. 15 at 6:15 p.m., a father contacted DEC Central Dispatch to report that his daughter and hiking companion from Pennsylvania were lost on Wittenberg Mountain. Forest Rangers Russell Martin and Kenneth Gierloff obtained cell phone coordinates from 911, located the pair within three hours, and escorted them back to their vehicle without further incident.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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